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Chef Walter’s Flavors + Knowledge: Bresaola and Pears with Balsamic Reduction

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

 

A simple appetizer which combines the pleasant saltiness of cured Bresaola and the natural sweetness of ripe pears. It can be prepare ahead of time and assembled at last minute before serving. Most consumers are not familiar with dried Bresaola but the curing process is very similar to prosciutto. In this preparation I have also added a simple artichoke and almond chutney.

What is bresaola!

Bresaola is cured beef, a treat from the Valtellina, a major Alpine valley that extends east for close to a hundred miles from the top of Lake Como. The Valtellinesi have been making it for long enough that they etymology of the word is uncertain; some say it derives from sala come brisa, a reference to the use of salt in preserving meats, and others say it derives from brasa, the brasiers that were once used to heat the chambers where the meat was cured.

In any case, bresaola is now made by slat curing beef with spices, and then air drying it for several months.

Unlike most cold cuts, which are usually served with bread, bresaola is finely sliced, and seasoned with a mixture of olive oil, salt, and pepper, to which many people add some lemon juice. Some also add flakes of Parmigiano.

In addition to beef bresaola, one can also find bresaola made from horse meat, and I have seen bresaola of donkey as well. As a general rule, a piece of bresaola made from beef will be slightly larger and a bit lighter in color than one made from horse, while bresaola of donkey is almost black. Horse and donkey bresaola were very popular after the Second World War but not as common today. Bresaola can be purchased from your favorite gourmet store.

Ingredients

2 cups red wine, Cabernet or Merlot

2 cups balsamic vinegar not aged

½ cup granulated sugar

2 pears (Anjou varietal)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

4 slices of cured beef bresaola

Directions

Prepare the balsamic reduction: In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the wine, balsamic vinegar and the sugar.

Cook, stirring, until the sauce reduces by half and it becomes thick and syrupy. Meanwhile cut the pears in half. In a skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the pears, and sear for 1 minute. Add the sugar, and cook until caramelized.

To serve, arrange the pear halves on the plate. Drape the bresaola next to the pears and drizzle the balsamic reduction. Artichoke and almond chutneys are optional additions.

Note on Anjou pears

Commonly referred to by their French name, “d' Anjou,” Anjou pears are the second-most recognizable pear variety in the United States. It’s the most abundant variety, which means you'll find Green Anjou pears on produce stands in the U.S. nearly year round.

Identifying Green Anjou Pears

Green Anjou pears are recognizable for their egg-shaped appearance, having a larger spherical lower portion that begins a gradual taper above the mid-point to a narrower rounded top. Their skin color is bright green, and sometimes has a soft red blush. Skin color shows only very subtle color change while ripening.

Master Chef Walter Potenza is the owner of Potenza Ristorante in Cranston, Chef Walters Cooking School and Chef Walters Fine Foods. His fields of expertise include Italian Regional Cooking, Historical Cooking from the Roman Empire to the Unification of Italy, Sephardic Jewish Italian Cooking, Terracotta Cooking, Diabetes and Celiac. Recipient of National and International accolades, awarded by the Italian Government as Ambassador of Italian Gastronomy in the World. Currently on ABC6 with Cooking Show “Eat Well." www.chefwalter.com / http://www.chefwalter.blog.com/

 

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